Big Girl Pants: The Flat Tire Edition

That I was out of ideas for what to fix for dinner, or that we were out of necessities like onions (I can’t cook a damn thing without them!), didn’t make my trip to the grocery store an emergency, but our dachshund Clyde was OUT of his Fresh Pet food and that will NEVER do. So I planned a late afternoon trip to the local market. On “Senior Tuesday”, the 10% discount is great, but it can be trying to be in a hurry when the whole store vibe is “slow down, you’re shaking my walker.”

I climbed into my 1999 Ford Explorer, Baby, and got my first warning: 1/8 of a tank of gas. I could probably make it the six miles into town and back again, but it makes me nervous to let the gas get below a quarter tank. I decided I’d better get gas first (it would turn out to be my best decision all day). My second warning came shortly after I pulled out of the driveway: Baby was acting “funny”, and I couldn’t quite define it until I got up on the highway, where she was definitely steering badly, pulling to the right, and hard to accelerate. By the time we’d made the mile to the gas station, I thought I could hear a “flapping” and I was sure I had a tire problem, “probably just low again,” I told myself. I pulled up to the air pump station instead of the gas pump (second wise decision), and got out to discover that my left rear tire was shredded.

I gaped at the tire and thought it was interesting that I had just put a Roadside Assistance card from our insurance company in my wallet (another sign?). I was on the phone to get help when a friendly fellow stopped to tell me “I think that might be beyond air.” He offered to help, but I thanked him and said I had someone coming. Meanwhile, my ancient cell phone was making a game, if sometimes distorted effort at translating what the customer service rep was telling me. I couldn’t be more sorry for her, since I had to keep saying “Pardon?” “What was that?” “Could you repeat that?” We finally got it sorted out: a tow company from 20 miles away (don’t get me started on the fact that we have at least three towing companies within 5 miles, one of which is right across the street from where I live), which is contracted with my insurance company would be coming to my aid IN AN HOUR.

Two nice gentlemen on motorcycles asked if I had help coming, and I assured them I did. “Gonna need a new tire,” one of them pointed out. “Yup,” I answered. I wished them a great ride and they sped off. Later, another young man stopped to help and actually found my jack and spare tire, but my jack is apparently missing a part, and we decided to just leave it to the tow truck.

I love the Star Prairie Convenience store (locally known as “The Star”). They are always handy, helpful, courteous, and kind. Better yet, they have nice, clean bathrooms, and a table and chairs (even for a customer who couldn’t scrape up 75 cents for a bottle of water and had to borrow from the penny bin). I was NOT going to write a check for a bottle of water, and I was NOT going to move my truck to the gas pumps, so I could write a bigger check. I made myself at home and gazed out the window like a dog anxiously awaiting its person.

After a half hour, a Roadside Assistance robocall announced that the tow truck would arrive in 20 minutes. About 25 minutes later, one of the store clerks said “your rescue party is here.” And so he was, a very nice young man named Cody, who suggested that I could wait inside while he put Baby on his truck and he would pick me up at the door (my hero). Getting me into the front seat of a giant tow truck was a little challenging, but he was patient and I was determined—I’d have let him sling me up on the hoist if it meant getting home.

I was REALLY tired of waiting, but I decided that as badly as I wanted him to drop me off at home before taking Baby to our tire place, I would ride along, talk to the mechanics, and wait there for Chris to pick me up after work. I got Chris on the phone, and found out he had just punched out and would pick me up, but I would still have to wait a half hour for him to get there. That’s o.k., I thought. J&R Tire has a nice waiting room and I know where the bathroom is; they also have a very nice, friendly bunch of people working there.

Chris arrived before five and we decided to continue my mission to get to the grocery store; the dog WAS out of his favorite food, after all. Turns out, Big Girl Pants can work spontaneously, as well as by carefully planned execution.